Startup company Adament Technologies is working on releasing a sensor that can plug into iPhones and can detect smells as good as a dog's nose. Sam Khamis, the founder and CEO of the company, received his PhD in physics at the University of Pennsylvania. It was through his research work when the idea for the sensor was born and where he developed the technology that would make it work. His research was focused mainly on nanotechnology, including electronic transport in nanoscale carbon systems, single walled carbon nanotubes, single walled carbon nanotube networks, and few layer graphene. However, his plans are not limited to smell, using the same technology he hopes to give phones and computers a sense of taste also.
The whole idea brings cognitive machines one-step closer. Why would anyone want to give a computer a sense of smell or taste someone may say? There are many possibilities for what a sensor with that ability can do. For instance, a computer that can taste may be able to determine all the ingredients within a food or give you personal critiques on your food. While a sensor that can smell could be used to detect dangerous gases or give feedback on the scent of the environment around you. One specific application Sam is interested in is an app that tells you when you have bad breath. “Halitosis, or bad breath tracking, is something we're really interested in. The app will even be able to tell you what caused the smell,” Sam commented.
This is only possible through a computer chip that has been created at Adament Technologies. The computer chip uses carbon nanotube chemical sensors to take smell and tastes and digitize them, almost a similar idea as analog to digital converters. In comparison to the human nose, this chip will possess about 2,000 sensors where as our noses have around 400 biological sensors. The phone accessory is expected to cost around 100 dollars or possibly less but it is not expected to be out anytime soon. There will probably be lots of great and bad apps that are created using smells, however one to keep people from drunk texting old girlfriends would probably be a popular one. Just a thought.